|November 23, 2015 • VOL. 53, NO. 20 • Oakland, CA|
Gift of giving
Help retired religious weather financial future
The annual Retirement Fund for Religious collection will be Dec. 12-13 in the Diocese of Oakland. Now in its 28th year, the appeal is coordinated by the National Religious Retirement Office and offers support for senior Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests whose communities lack sufficient retirement funding. Some 33,000 women and men religious past age 70 benefit.
The 2014 appeal raised $28.3 million nationally, and the NRRO distributed more than $25 million in monetary support to 395 religious communities. Throughout the year, additional funding is allocated for communities with the greatest needs and for retirement planning and educational resources. Ninety-three cents of every dollar directly aids elderly religious; the remainder is used for administration and promotion of the appeal.
"We are overwhelmed by the ongoing generosity shown this appeal," said Precious Blood Sister Janice Bader, the NRRO's executive director. "Since the fund was launched in 1988, Catholics have donated $755 million to assist religious communities in caring for their elder members."
U.S. bishops initiated the collection to address the significant lack of retirement funding among U.S. religious communities. Proceeds are distributed to eligible communities to help underwrite retirement and health-care expenses.
In 2014, 66 percent of the religious communities providing data to the NRRO had a median age of 70 or older. Accompanying the higher median age is a decrease in the number of religious able to serve in compensated ministry, which further reduces the income available for eldercare.
Hundreds of religious communities also lack sufficient retirement savings, due in part to historically low compensation. "Most senior religious worked for years for small stipends and did not receive retirement benefits," said Sister Bader.
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